Thursday, October 05, 2006

To Veg or Not To Veg, That is the Question

For a few years now, Husband and I have contemplated becoming vegetarians. Not vegan types, because we are both completely addicted to cheese and yogurt, and also love eggs very much.

We eat vegetarian meals 2 or 3 times a week. We have vegetarian friends who recently introduced us to a company called Quorn. This company, Quorn, is producing a soy-free meat substitute, that, I kid you not, would fool most people into believing that they are not eating a vegetarian meal. We eat a lot of MorningStar and Boca products, and while they are tasty and full of protein and fiber, and I enjoy eating them, they never really fool me into believing that I am eating meat. But, the Quorn products have a taste and texture that is very very much like chicken.

On the other hand, if I am eating something that tastes LIKE chicken, why not just eat some chicken?

Well, I guess there are several viable reasons: some people don’t eat meat because they object to eating food with a face.

Some people don’t eat meat because they object to the mass marketing of meat products in the United States which raises issues of cruelty to animals and questionable safety of the meat product (i.e. mad cow disease.)

Some people don’t eat meat because of health concerns, and it is true that the meat substitutes tend to have a lot of protein (like meat) but also contain fiber, which is an added health benefit.

I think that the reasons that my husband and I have considered becoming vegetarian has to do with our concerns about the safety of the meat industry, concerns about the circumstances that the animals are living in, and health concerns. On the other hand, I am concerned about feeding my son too many soy products (although, the above mentioned Quorn is a soy-free protein).

I often wonder (without asking, because it seems rude) if my vegetarian friends and acquaintances would eat meat if they could easily get free range chicken and free range beef. (D~, I’m pretty sure your answer would be no. :-) ) (I’m not sure if there is such a thing, technically, as “free range” beef. What I mean is, happy cows wandering around.)

I have a real love affair with beef – there is a beef, mushroom, and hummos dish at a restaurant near our house that I have downright irrestible cravings for. I love beef tenderloin, and I love beef stew, and especially Japanese style curried beef stew, and I’m not sure, at this point, that I feel like giving them up.

I have found a farm, about 25 minutes from our house, where we can buy a ¼ or 1/2 of a cow. A quarter or a half of a happy cow who spent his life wandering around on a farm, instead of cooped up in a barn, who has not been fed mountains of antibiotics or mashed up pieces of other cow. (And I find this very appealing, because Mad Cow Disease really scares the crap out of me.) (Also, buying a cow in this way, is actually not much more expensive than buying beef at the grocery store - some cuts are cheaper, actually. You just have to have room to store it all.)

So, I think for the moment, we are going to start there. Buying our meat in the form of happy cows. Or, rather, cows that had happy lives. And I think we might increase our meat free meals from 2 to 3 per week to 3 or 4 per week, now that we have found this soy free Quorn product.

Have I mentioned BACON in this post, because truly, BACON is a huge sticking point with me and the vegetarian question. Bacon...mmmm...bacon...


Blogger Spirit said...

I've certainly got some way to go before the site about Travel Guides meets the standards of your blog.

Thursday, October 05, 2006 1:23:00 PM  
Blogger Nicki said...

Oh this is a subject close to my heart. I actually think there are a lot more benefits than risks to meat-eating and that humans were meant to eat meat so I'm not a veggie-type. But I am a health nut and this is what we do. We buy our cow by the 1/2 from free-range cows (yes, they exist!!) and it is goood and we usually give it a name and thank it which may sound ludicrous but it makes sense to me on a spiritual level. Also my brother is a bow-hunter and will never take more than he can use so he always gives us most of what he kills and it doesn't get more free-range than that (plus these deer are about to freeze to death in the overpopulated michigan subdivisions) so that is 90% of our meat. Many people dont like venison but we love it more than beef now. And really we don't really do chicken. None of us like it. For bacon, Trader Joe's has a nitrate-free bacon that is soooo yummy, just like the bad stuff.

Thursday, October 05, 2006 2:33:00 PM  
Blogger c h e l said...

I've been a veg for almost 20 years (YIKES)... I'd never go back. I have no desire to, at this point. Every year I find that I crave things less and less as the meat-substitutes inprove in taste and texture. Oddly enough, the only thing I miss rightnow is fried fish (!!) and I think that's because I miss tartar sauce.

It's not the TASTE of things that makes me a vegetarian, it's the ethical issues. So I don't mind eating something that tastes like chicken if it's not a chicken. But I also wouldn't mind new tastes, but it seems hard to invent a new flavor not based on ingredients used for thousands of years in meals. Most food products (condiments, seasonings, etc.) are on the market to compliment chicken, beef, fish, pork, etc. So it's hard not to end up having a mela that tastes a little "meaty", you know?

I think the "veggie chicken", "veggie hot dogs", etc. craze is mostly about substance rather than craving the taste- I like having something to make a sandwich with at lunch and something to put in a bun with some cheese when we are grilling. For a long time all I ate was bagels and pasta- not healthy. When I was 20 they finally started making veggie burgers widely available, and that changed my life, food-wise. Now I eat protein constantly, and even though it's called a "veggie burger" it's really just a good, substantial thing to put on my plate next to the veggies and the starches.

Plus, very few veggie foods taste anything like what they supposed emulate. And very few veggies care- it's more the texture, shape, look, and way you can use the products. It's nice not having to have tofu every day, especially since the only tofu I like is made by a pro at the Vietnamese/Thai restaurants we go to.

Grace, however, is not a veggie. We feel strongly it's a decision she needs to make herself. The ironic thing is she doesn't like beef at all, and prefers veggies and stuff to chicken (which is the "other" meat that baby food comes in).

Before you eat too much Quorn- do some research on it. There's a lot of controversy over it in the veg community. There were a few reports of peopple getting VERY ill from eating it since it's harvested from a fungus. Check this out:

I dunno if any of your family might have food allergies, but as we are dealing with the fact Grace probably has a few of those, things like this become more important.

Thursday, October 05, 2006 3:58:00 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

I think whatever decision you make is going to be the best for you and your family!

Um...can't say much more about it....

From A Very Happy Meat Eater! ;)

Thursday, October 05, 2006 4:55:00 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

I am new to your blog, but let me just say I am so glad I'm not the only maybe-veg out there! I truly would LIKE to be vegetarian - mostly due to animal cruelty and health reasons. However, there are definitely "those meals" that I just can't imagine doing without. And bacon is also a weakness for me, too. I don't eat it often, but I can't imagine never eating it again!

I've really enjoyed reading through your blog and love your honesty and enthusiasm! We are waiting on our 3 y/o daughter in Vietnam, so I can truly understand your anxiousness! Good luck to you! :)

Thursday, October 05, 2006 8:13:00 PM  
Blogger -Jenny said...

I couldn't do it. I just love meat sooo much. BUT, I only shop at wholefoods for meat now which is outrageously expensive but they do not sell products sold by farms that may have been, well lived a crappy life. WF won't sell lobster (i love lobster) anymore because of animal cruelty questions.

They have free range and grassfed beef. I don't know if this is good enough or not but that is what I buy now.

I guess there are now more alternatives.

Good luck.. I couldn't live without bacon, sausage, meatballs, pepperoni!

Thursday, October 05, 2006 8:50:00 PM  
Anonymous ajw said...

Try morning-star fake-bacon, it is a lifesaver. I have been meat free for 6ish years, have had 5 migraines in those years. Before I stopped eating meat I had at least 2 migraines a month. I started eating a lot of the bocca and morning-star foods, Now I eat more whole foods and a lot less processed food. You can find veggie food at every eating establishment (except McDonalds), and can cook it easily at home. Give it a try, it can't hurt you!

Friday, October 06, 2006 7:27:00 AM  
Blogger Danielle said...

I have just read your veg question- you know where I stand. Veg life is great. It is easy and healthy. There are so many "meat alternatives" and eating Indian is always a good choice. We need to re-schedule our dinner... Miss and love you, D

Monday, October 09, 2006 8:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now I am really confused. You worry about cows and chickens, but take your kid to a circus to see wild animals that are abused?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006 6:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Dimitrios Pop Art said...

I was at an Anthony Robbbins Unleash The Power Within event, and the last day with had session with Tony Robbins' fitness guy. From that day on, I have not eaten a piece of meat. But it's not only about eating no meat, it was also about or even more so about eating processed foods. All the stuff they throw in there. I don't know anymore...

Friday, December 08, 2006 9:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just eating a quorn sausage! I wish people would stop using the word 'fungus' urgh, that grows on feet!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007 9:36:00 PM  

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